31 August 2010

Beet the Heat

We've been throwing these in a pot, cooking, peeling, and slicing them to put in the fridge and eat on over the course of a few days. Great alone or with a little salt. I love beets! Today I fancied them up a bit with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and fresh oregano. Mmmmmmm . . . perfect afternoon snack for a hot summer day.

30 August 2010

Patio Picnic

Sunday night, my husband conceived of a torch-lit back patio picnic in which we would have various friend over, cook al fresco, and talk late into the night. We got two takers, and David and one of them did indeed talk late(ish) into the night by flickering torch and candle light.

We spread quite an impromptu feast on our elegant folding table turned buffet: chicken, pepper, and onion stir-fry (which David cooked al fresco over the Coleman camp stove); fresh tomato-basil bruschetta (a cooperative effort between me and Tabitha); leftover fried rice; black olives; pesto potato salad (more about that later); delicious local watermelon (compliments of Tabitha); and party mix (leftover from a movie night I put on last week with some friends).

David dishes up

scary blurry pic of me

mood lighting

So, this is a post about pesto. See, I don't forget my promises. These past few weeks (before my friends re-claimed their generously long-term loaned food processor) I'd been having quite a time of it with the pesto, throwing a handful of basil, a glug of olive oil, some garlic and what-not into the processor and banging out a batch every few days. I added parmesan cheese once, but I like to keep things simple (and inexpensive), so it was mostly the short list of ingredients: basil, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and nuts (usually walnuts).

The most recent batch I made, I took pains to actually write down amounts so that I could post it here. But each time is truly a new and unique manifestation. Cheese may be added. Your taste for garlic may not be as pungent as mine. Perhaps, the more traditional pine nuts appeal to you. Go for it! But for the record, here's one incarnation:

In no particular order, place in your food processor:

4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cups basil
4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Whiz until smooth! You may have to scrape down the sides a time or two. If you prefer a wetter pesto, add more oil.

I've found lots of delicious ways to use pesto, and it doesn't last for more than a couple of days in our fridge. Spread on bread and toast. Add a tomato for a twist on the classic summer tomato sandwich. Stir into pasta for light summer fare. And my favorite so far this year: use as a "dressing" for potato salad. As in, cook diced potatoes, drain them, and add pesto. No more needed! Got any other great ideas for pesto uses?

*I added the label "CSA Dinner" to this post because the peppers, onions, and potatoes were all from our CSA box! This week we got a pumpkin that I'm looking forward to cutting into--I just have to decide whether to turn it into pie or curry!

19 August 2010


Seeing as there are no more left in our fridge, I'd say I think they turned out pretty well! I LOVE the cookie part, but wasn't as pleased with the filling. It could very well have been my method of mixing. I made peanut butter (which was the best!) and maple-flavored filling. Anyone have a recipe for it which doesn't include beating egg whites or using marshmallow fluff?

18 August 2010

Summer Love

It's all about fresh, homegrown tomatoes and sweet, pungent herbs picked out of the garden.

Case #1: Buttery Sage and Tomato Omelet

In a few teaspoons of butter, saute some fresh chopped sage and diced tomato a few minutes. Not long enough for the sage to wilt and lose its color! Whip up your eggs (I used 2) with some salt, pepper, and a dash of milk and pour over the tomatoes. Next comes the hard part. Turn down the heat and resist the temptation to touch it until it is nearly dry-looking on top. Then get a spatula under that thing and flip it! Turn off the heat and let it sit in the pan a few moments to completely cook the eggs. Slide onto a plate, top with cheese, and give thanks to God for fresh tomatoes and herbs!

Of course, if you want to make it a real, full breakfast, you must have fried potatoes on the side. I cut up my potatoes, add some water and zap them in the microwave for about 4 minutes to cook them. Then I transfer to my iron skillet with some butter or oil and fry over low-med heat until they're browned. Salt, peppah, nothin' bettah! Here I ate them with some fresh tomato chutney.

Summer Love Case #2: Eggplant-Tomato Stackers with Pesto Pasta

Right off the bat, I have to say these stackers were less than ideal. Maybe they needed more salt, more oil, more pesto, or just needed to be totally re-done. I simply brushed eggplant slices with a little olive oil, spread on a bit of pesto, slapped a tomato on top and baked in the toaster oven at 350F for 20 minutes or so. Not particularly tasty. Salt helped. I think another time I would fry the eggplant first, salt the slices, top it with goat cheese--YUM!--and then add diced tomato and fresh basil with more salt and pepper. Or something like that.

As for the pesto pasta-yummy! Check back in for a pesto discussion later.

Case #3: Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Diced Tomato and Basil

Pretty, no? Especially on that blue and white plate! Scrambled eggs--make 'em like you like 'em. I like mine a little browned just so I KNOW they're done. Topped with fresh diced tomatoes, chopped basil, and parmesan. I loved how it looked, liked less how it tasted. Maybe too much basil in too big chunks. I think next time I will mix the tomatoes and finely chopped basil with a little olive oil and salt before topping the eggs.

Ah! Summer love! How quickly your beauty fades! How fast you all go to seed!

06 August 2010

Squash Blossoms

About a month ago when it seemed that all our volunteer vines were only going to produce ornamental gourds, I picked off a few handfuls of blossoms to cook and eat. Not really knowing how to prepare them, I looked to the internet for recipes. Most of them called for copious amounts of cheese and frying. Not really my style. I whipped up my own mixture for the filling: labane, an egg yolk, cooked and grated beets, raw grated zucchini, and salt & pepper.

Slitting the washed blossoms open down one side, I removed bugs (three bees! and a few little stripey guys) and reproductive parts then spooned in about a teaspoon of the mixture I'd made. I closed the blossoms and placed them into a small baking dish.

When it was full, I brushed the blossoms with the egg white, sprinkled them with bread crumbs I had on hand in the freezer, and chucked them in the toaster oven at 350F for about 12 minutes.

I was truly amazed when they came out at how firm they set up! I half expected the labane mix to ooze out and make a total mess of this dish, but the labane stayed inside the blossoms, and they were easy to pick up and eat as finger food! (I have some very game friends who helped eat all these).

Cook's Word: Would I make these again? Sure! I couldn't really taste the squash blossoms themselves, so I think I'd add a few more spices to the filling for better overall flavor. I loved the magenta color that the beets added!